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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Graphic Novels
The best-reviewed graphic novels since the March 15, 2008, Booklist showcase every kind of comics content except those most identified with the medium, superheroics and outrageous comedy. Very interesting.
Bottomless Belly Button. By Dash Shaw. 2008. Fantagraphics, paper, $29.99 (9781560979159).
Shaw gives the possible last gathering of a good but eccentric family the intelligently humanist treatment of the best mainstream novels and movies, brilliantly seasoned by dashes of fantasy.
The Country Nurse: Essex County, v.3. By Jeff Lemire. 2008. Top Shelf, paper, $9.95 (9781891830952).
The Essex County trilogy concludes by following Anne Byrne as she visits her elderly patients and three principals from the previous volumes of Lemire’s poetic and powerful naturalist-expressionist portrait of a dwindling farm family.
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. By Alison Bechdel. 2008. Houghton, $25 (9780618968800).
Bechdel’s autobiographical Fun Home (2006) finally made her deservedly famous, but her real-time comic strip chronicling a circle of gay friends for some 20 years is her masterpiece.
Hall of Best Knowledge. By Ray Fenwick. 2008. Fantagraphics, paper, $19.99 (9781560979104).
The author-artist of the mini-essays embedded in intricate decoration that make up this book claims that he’s a “genius” but seems to be an awkward kid whose passage into a less lonely stage of life gratifyingly resolves the drama implicit in Fenwick’s artful debut.
Miss Don’t Touch Me. By Hubert and Kerascoet. Tr. by Joe Johnson. 2009. NBM/ComicsLit, paper, $14.95 (9781561635443).
Virginal Florence moves into an upscale brothel in post–Great War Paris to sleuth what she feels was her sister’s murder. In terms of characterization, plot, and setting, and the integration of images and words, graphic novels come no better.
Okko: The Cycle of Water. By Hub. Tr. by Edward Gauvin. 2007. Archaia Studios, $19.95 (9781932386455).
A kidnapped geisha’s younger brother inveigles sword-wielding ronin Okko into rescuing her. The subsequent death-defying journey is stunningly realized in a French video-game and film artist’s graphic-novel debut.
Ordinary Victories: What Is Precious. By Manu Larcenet. Tr. by Joe Johnson. 2008. NBM/ComicsLit, paper, $15.95 (9781561635337).
Following up discoveries about his late father, photojournalist Marco learns humbling lessons about the malleability of human character while changing his mind about fatherhood. Larcenet’s realist masterpiece ends in peaceful domesticity.
Potential: The High School Comics Chronicles of Ariel Schrag. By Ariel Schrag. 2008. Touchstone, paper, $14 (9781416552359).
In eleventh grade, Schrag thought she was lesbian but also thought that losing her virginity wouldn’t count unless it was with a boy. Pulling no punches, she renders working through sexual-orientation issues superbly.
Tamara Drewe. By Posy Simmonds. 2008. Houghton/Mariner, paper, $16.95 (9780547154121).
Simmonds’ montage of comics, prose, and newspaper formats limns the dance of lust, repentance, forgiveness, bereavement, and distrust among socially disparate patrons of a writers’ retreat and a teens’ hangout in an English village.
Tonoharu: Part One. By Lars Martinson. 2008. Pliant, $19.95 (9780980102321).
In his first job—assisting junior-high English instruction in Japan—Dan Wells faces boredom, homesickness, difficulty in conversational Japanese, and the rebuffs of other Westerners. Martinson’s art well conveys romanticism confronted by reality.
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